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NCR unveils "wireless" cash machine

The company unveils an experimental ATM that will dispense money only after being zapped by a beam from a person's cell phone or PDA.

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  Accessing ATMs by cell phone
Tim Wiggins, director, NCR Advanced Concept Lab
NCR has unveiled an experimental ATM that will dispense cash only after being zapped by a beam from a person's handheld device.

To withdraw cash, customers program the desired amount into their cellular phone or personal digital assistant and point the device at the bight red, egg-shaped "concept" ATM, and out pops the money.

The ATM could be ready for consumer use in about a year, said Lorraine Russell, a spokeswoman for NCR, which builds computer systems for retailers and banks.

NCR, which reported earnings that met lowered expectations Tuesday, is attempting to appeal to the growing number of cell phone and PDA users. Research by Cahners In-Stat Group estimates that about 1.3 billion people will use a wireless device by 2004.

The demand for mobile commerce, however, has yet to emerge in a significant way.

Since a consumer must stand within a couple of feet of the ATM, the technology shaves only seconds from a traditional ATM transaction, Russell said.

"This will not replace debit cards," she said. "It's an added convenience for the growing number of people that are doing their banking extensively with mobile devices."

Customers must key in their PIN as they beam their information to the ATM, Russell said. That prevents anyone from accessing accounts by using a stolen PDA.

NCR said Tuesday that net income was $35 million, or 35 cents a share, down from $39 million, or 39 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The company blamed softer demand for data storage.